And Yet...

 Oh they’re all like that. Look at her older sister. Could never remember anything. Hopeless. The implication? They are beyond help. Hearing this about yourself is just one step away from believing it. Believing that it is simply impossible to learn something new and become good at it.

Of course, as teachers we don’t allow ourselves to slide into thinking and talking this way. If we did we’d be guilty of letting our students down. We would have absolved ourselves of the responsibility for doing something to support their learning. We would have blamed their lack of progress on factors outside our control and used them as an excuse to not investigate further or try different approaches to help them in their learning journey.

What are some ways to talk about challenges that avoid deficit thinking and give hope? I love the power of  that little word: “yet”. A little word but a powerful one. How much more motivating to tell a student that they haven’t  got it “yet” than that it’s just wrong, end of story.

This reminds me of the remarkable story of Leicester City Football Club. Man, if only I’d thought of putting $10 on them to win the English Premier League.  But who would have thought it? At the start of the season, bookmakers Ladbrookes and William Hill were so sure they couldn’t do it (“yet”) that they offered odds of 5,000-1 for a Leicester City victory. How wrong they were – it turned out to be the upset of the decade, if not the last fifty years. Leicester City, cellar dwellers 12 months earlier won the Championship on May 2nd this year after a stellar run to emerge at the top. Their coach, Claudio Ralieni, was named the 2016 Premier League Manager of the Season, and LMA Manager of the Year.

This story has now become an inspiration to other football clubs. I wonder what Ranieri did? How did he manage this team? What messages did he communicate?  I’ll bet it had something to do with the power of his language. I wonder if one of his first talks with the team about their recent performance was about instilling the message that they had not won it “yet”.

Jeremy Bloomfield

Accent Learning

1 June 2016